Constraints are positive influence — It’s all about tradeoffs
Constraints are good, and we can actually benefit from them more than the opposite.
Constraints are normally not well received, they represent restriction, limitation or a shortage of some sort. I, on the other hand, welcome them greatly, as I learned to recognise how much I benefit from them. They represent an opportunity to focus on the things that matter the most, and they forced you to make decisions and act upon them.
When it comes to life, we are constantly making decisions one after the other, is balancing act; it’s all about tradeoffs, and that’s exactly what constraints are, tradeoffs. Yet, when it comes to business and projects, for some reason, this logic seems to not apply in the same manner. Constraints tend to be perceived as a stepping stone towards the goal.
Over the weekend, I had the pleasure to read Steve Krug’s “Don’t make me think”, a great book that, although it is mainly focused around best practices and common sense around the design of websites and mobile apps from a user experience (UX) standpoint, I immediately started thinking about how this approach towards products and design, should be the starting point of every project on every company.
What I liked the most was Krug’s simplicity towards the issue. Basically, there are “things you have to do and things can’t do”. Many would agree, yet still doesn’t happen.
It is THAT simple. These should be the two questions every person or team should raise before embarking on any project, instead of looking for ways to pack everything and do it all, even when is not feasible. It is like denying reality, one that normally kicks harder the more things move forward.
“Many — if not most — serious [usability] problems are the result of a poor decision about a tradeoff “
— Seteve Krug
Let’s do it
Let’s embrace constraints, and by this I don’t mean let’s just dig ourselves into limitations. Let’s start getting better at prioritising, but above all, let’s start thinking about what we want to do, what we have to do, and what we can’t do.
“The human race built most nobly when limitations were greatest, and therefore where most was required of imagination in order to build it all. Limitations seem to have always been the best friends of architecture.”.”
— Frank Lloyd Wright
Let’s make better decisions, but most importantly, let’s stop acting like we count with endless resources. Let’s focus on what really matters.